MONDAY MUSINGS

5 Ways to Fight Distraction During Prayer

dozing off

 

The shrill of my alarm clock draws me from a deep sleep. I pull a robe over my shoulders and shuffle like a zombie to the coffee pot. Usually, no one else is up this early except the cats. It’s a good thing too because I’m not a pretty sight. And anyone who has attempted to trifle with me at this hour did not repeat it a second time!

After fifteen minutes of sitting comatose and several swigs of joe, I manage to mumble, “Good morning, Lord.”

Next, I pick up my Bible and journal. This has been part of my normal routine for several years.

But there’s something else that used to dominate this routine—DISTRACTIONS.

Oh, we need more laundry soap. I’m supposed to bring a snack to the classroom today.
Ugh, I don’t want to forget that snack or the room parent will make me feel like such a loser. 
How is she always so put together? What should I make for dinner tonight?

Before I knew it, I’d wasted a lot of time on random thoughts. Feeling guilty, I would admonish myself then attempt to cram in a few minutes of prayer and Bible reading before it was time to get ready for the day.

Some mornings were better than others, of course. On those mornings, I’d pat myself on the back. I had started out my day like a “good Christian”.

I wonder if you can relate?

I wish I could tell you that I no longer struggle with distractions from God. The truth is, I do. But now it’s occasionally rather than the norm. Over time I developed some strategies that I hope you will find helpful. These strategies are intended to be used during a segment of uninterrupted (do your best) daily God-time. Not the quick prayers in the shower or on the way to work. Although these are great, they should not take the place of a deeper time with the Lord.

5 Ways to Fight Distractions During Prayer

1. Keep Post-It Notes or To-Do List Nearby

Because my mind seems to wander to the things I need to get done, I’ve learned to keep paper near my Bible to write things down. I cannot tell you how helpful this is! I simply take a quick detour to write down whatever it is (things for the grocery list, an event coming up, etc.) then get back to my prayer or reading. I also have my journal handy, because some of those distractions are things I need to pray about. Which brings me to my next point.notebook

2. Pray with a Pen

Writing something down takes intention and focus. I still remember the first time I decided to write down my prayer in a journal. That was over twenty years ago. The journal is not a replacement for speaking prayers to the Lord, mind you. It serves to help focus and organize my thoughts. Once I’ve written down a few things, I’m usually able to carry on with my prayers mentally and/or vocally.

A little organization goes a long way. I mean, let’s face it, there’s a lot of stuff and people to pray for. It can be mind-boggling. Writing down prayer concerns helps. I actually have two places I write prayers down. One is a journal for personal thoughts and prayers (pic below).img_1308

The other is a ringed notebook with tabs. The notebook has two parts.

Section one: Prayer Focus for the Day

I don’t have the time to cover many of the events that happen in this world the way I’d like to. So, I have categorized some major topics and written them on the inside cover of the notebook where I have assigned them a particular day of the week. Under each day, I have written a prayer focus. Here’s an example:

Sunday
Leadership —country, state, city, church, my home, schools/teachers, boss

Monday                                              img_1309
Focused family prayer

Tuesday
Extended family, friends

Wednesday
Neighbors and the lost            

Thursday
Warfare

Friday
Focused family prayer

Saturday
Missions

Daily
My family and Oikos (Greek word meaning the 8-15 people I have regular contact with).

Section Two: People Close to Me

Next, in my ringed notebook, I have individually tabbed sections for each of the following: my husband, kids, extended family and friends, church and misc. concerns.

3. Put Away Your Phone

I know, I know. Many of us even use the Bible on our phones. But I have found that after reading a devotion or Bible app, I’m tempted to read emails and check social media. Sometimes I even use the excuse of posting a Scripture meme. Gasp! If you have this problem too, then let me encourage you—just put away the phone, and get your paper Bible out for goodness sakes. cell phone with hand coming out

I have a self-imposed rule of leaving my phone in another room (yeah, I can’t have it nearby) until after I’ve had my designated amount of time in prayer and Bible reading. Then if I want to read an additional devotion on the phone, it’s gravy.

4. Pray With Thanksgiving

Let’s face it, sometimes it isn’t just distractions.  Our scattered thoughts can prevent us from knowing where to start. When this happens, I begin saying aloud (or writing down) all things I’m thankful for. My mom called this “counting your blessings.” As I thank God for people or things, I naturally say a prayer for them, too.

5. Pray Scripture Aloud

The disciples asked Jesus how to pray, so I decided that I would model what Jesus told them in Matthew 6:9-13 which is often referred to as the Lord’s Prayer. I pray the exact words from scripture but add my own as well. Using scripture as a guide helps me stay focused. I’ll give you an example. First, read the Lord’s prayer below. Then next you’ll see an example of how I pray.

“Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”

My paraphrase may look something like this:

Father in heaven, I never want to forget how holy and wonderful you are. Even though I have my thoughts on how I think you should answer my prayers, I know that Your will is best and that is what I truly desire. Thank you for how you have provided for our family. Please forgive me for the way I lost my temper with the kids yesterday. Help me with the temptation of lashing out like that today.

See there? I just specialized the Lord’s prayer for my particular situation. What could be more in line with God’s will than to pray His own words back to Him? There are many amazing prayers in scripture that I read and pray aloud for myself, family and friends (inserting my name or a loved one’s name).

I’ve included some other prayers from the Bible below. These are only a few of my favorites. Just click on the verse which will take you to the scripture at BibleGateway. You may want to consider writing them on a notecard or in a journal.

More Great scripture prayers!

Exodus 33:13, Ephesians 1:15-23, Philippians 1:9-11, Psalms 51:1-8, James 5:15, Psalm 63 (the Psalms are filled with many prayers).

Don’t beat yourself up about distractions during prayer. Beat the distractions with a little organization! 

My friends, the Lord looks for persistence rather than perfection. Keep on seeking Him!

YEPW8569Have something to add? Need prayer? Let me know in the comments below.

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22 thoughts on “5 Ways to Fight Distraction During Prayer”

  1. Distractions will always happen. I sometimes think this is when Satan tries his hardest to derail my day. Sometimes though, distractions (well, maybe their not distractions but detours) can be good things. For example, as I work through my Prayer List each morning, the Holy Spirit will guide me to open my email application and send a note of encouragement, or share a prayer, with someone on my list. I think this is God-led, and therefore a good thing. Where I get into trouble is exercising my self-control to close the program and get back to my prayer time without giving into the urge to check all the emails in my four Inboxes. So when those detours happen, I think also it’s time for me to flex my faith muscles by obeying His leading and then putting myself back on His course. Great tips; will try some of these.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I really needed this today, Beckie. Thank you. I’ve been beating myself up a little over the last couple days and this was a good reminder of how to get back on track. Like you, I have found writing my prayers down to be a great help in focusing. I’m looking forward to trying some of your other tips.

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    1. Joshua, I’m so pleased a few of these strategies are helpful. I know how frustrating it can be to “want” to spend time with the Lord then feel guilty how easily I become distracted. Oh so grateful for His unending love and patience with us!
      Praying for you now, my friend.
      Blessings on you and yours.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great tips, Beckie! Thanks for sharing. I’ve used the “prayer focus for the day” in the past and really loved it. You’ve given me a reminder to put it back into practice. Thanks again!

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  4. Love all your strategies, Beckie. While it’s easy to become distracted during prayer time, it sure isn’t easy to admit it. And I’m sure the enemy has something to do with it at times…most of the time. He doesn’t want us praising the Lord, offering thanksgiving to God, standing in the gap for others or tapping into the power the devil knows we access by prayer. I like all of these tips, but especially putting away our phone…that thing is the biggest distraction in all of our lives!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, indeed, Karen! I seriously have to put the phone in another room altogether! And I agree that the enemy uses whatever tactics he can muster to keep us distracted. You reminded me of a time that I kept getting sleepy while reading my Bible. I finally asked God if it was an enemy attack. Sure enough, it was! I told that devil to get behind me and put on my full armor of God. Guess what? I was wide awake after that!

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  5. Distracted during prayer? Not always, but too many times not to take your post to heart, Beckie. You’ve given us wonderful, practical suggestions here, and I absolutely love your personalizing of the Lord’s Prayer – beautiful! I do plan to try some of your tactics going forward.
    Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. These are wonderful suggestions, Beckie. I already put my phone away, but I definitely need some of the others. Your idea of a pen and paper, both to write down the distracting thoughts (grocery list) and our prayer list is great. I’ve been wanting to strengthen my prayer life. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Katherine, Yep, it just happened this morning. I was out on my front porch reading my Bible when my mind drifted to the things I needed to do later in the day. I stopped, grabbed my paper, and wrote down a to-do list then resumed my reading. 🙂

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  8. Beckie, a very practical and timely post. I needed this and shared it on FB. We all get distracted in our prayers. Thank you for these great tips!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is full of helpful suggestions. Your first one is something I do in relation to my writing to keep those to-do items from distracting from my writing. It frees our subconscious when we move those types of things to a “parking lot” of some sort. I’ve never thought of using it during my quiet time. Duh! I will certainly implement that one. I’m a journaler too, and I love your idea of a notebook section with pages dedicated to my children and other significant others.

    Thank you!

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